Monday, March 16, 2020

What is the impact of the oil price drop on Global Warming?

Recently it was announced that the global crude oil prices have dropped. The man behind this is touted to be the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad Bin Salmaan, aka MBS. This is the biggest price drop since 1991. This intrigued me and I began reading on what this is all about.
Here’s what I gathered,
Saudi Arabia and Russia are the world's top crude oil exporters. They signed a deal in 2016 to curb the supply at 2.1 million barrels per day, in an attempt to manipulate the demand and supply and level the crude oil prices. Now, Saudi Arabia wants to increase that number to 3.6 million barrels through 2020, Russia doesn’t want that.
So to prove their upper hand over the oil market or just to have a bigger market share, Saudi slashed the oil prices over the last weekend. Talks of increasing the production to about 10 miller barrels a day is also doing rounds.
This is where I got interested, if we are going to drill so much to extract oil, aren’t we in a way harming nature? Will this affect our current carbon footprint? How does it affect the ecological balance of the planet?
A New York Times article says, Lower oil prices have a mixed impact on the environment. Drilling goes down, as do releases of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas connected with climate change. But if prices stay low for a while, gas-guzzling cars and trucks may find more buyers.
Other than that, there are numerous other effects of  oil drilling from affecting the local wildlife and marine life to increasing the carbon footprint of the countries who buy the oil. Let’s also not forget the fact that the marine life also makes up a part of our food chain, in effect harming human life as well. 
So it does make one wonder right, where is all this headed?

What does this mean for Indian Economy?
  1. While I am not an expert on this, I did come across a few interesting details during my research which I thought of sharing.
  2. India imports nearly 82 per cent of its oil
  3. In 2018-19, India spent $87 billion on oil imports
  4. If the oil prices remain low, India could see an overall import bill come down
  5. Analysts believe, for each drop of a dollar in crude prices, India’s import bill comes down by almost Rs 3000 crore


Thursday, January 2, 2020

Why I prefer newspaper over news channels

Last year has been interesting in several ways. Too many things happened in India's political and social circle. The shocking thing, however, is the amount of misinformed and unaware people that I was surrounded with.

I do not blame them though, I understand their situation as well. There is so much information pouring in from all sides that it totally gets overwhelming to process all of it. 

It made me wonder, do we really need constant updates? Do we have the time to read? Do we already don't have enough on our plate?

This is where the newspaper comes in. Information which is properly processed and then published is crucial in this day and time.

Unless it is an actual 'Breaking News' by which I mean, 

  1. Natural Disasters
  2. Political and Social Updates
  3. War like situations etc.
I do not think there is a need to put out constant news updates. Generally, when we watch the news on a TV Channel, the story is still developing, most do not have any concrete information and are generally reporting 'what it seems like' on ground.

A detailed report with all the information, pros and cons and expert opinions, can only come in after you have all the information on the table. 

A newspaper does just that. It processes the information. A person writes it, another person edits it, then it again goes to the first person for an OK, then the editor takes a look at it. 

There are several stages of fact-checking and the article has to be accurate to go to print. After all of this is completed, the paper reaches you in the morning with,

  1. Proper information
  2. No fluff
  3. All the happenings from across the globe are mentioned on dedicated pages
  4. Takes you a certain reading time (depending on your reading speed) to stay updated with the current happenings.
And after you have updated yourself with the latest happenings, you can carry on with your day without being constantly bombarded with new information.

Seems like a convenient thing to do right? Let's also not forget that it inculcates a reading habit.

But let's not forget that we live in a digital age, and there are several digital platforms who are doing some amazing work. You can identify them and follow their work. But do check if the information that they provide is,

  1. Verified
  2. Dependable
  3. Articulate
  4. Not sliding with one ideology is giving you a holistic picture
( You should also check for the above things in a newspaper. But if it is a newspaper, the above things are generally taken care of anyway. )

So, if you are looking for a New Year resolution, then maybe taking up reading newspaper is a good one to start with, you would be surprised by the amount of knowledge and information it can provide.

Have an opinion on the topic? Let's chat in the comments :)

Photo by Artem from Pexels

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

When does the decade end? 2019 or 2020? Here’s the answer

As we approach the New Year, there is a debate if the decade is ending with 2019 or we have wait another year and end the decade in 2020.

Logically, we count
1 to 10
11 to 20
21 to 30 and so on

So, since we begin our counting with 1 and not 0, the logical end to the decade is in 2020. (Purely based on math)


Culturally, we beg to defer. When we talk about decades, we include 0s.

A person born in 1980, claims that he is from the 80s, not 70s.

And that’s where the difference of opinion comes in.

Also, mathematically, 2010 to 2019 is ten years, so essentially a decade.

So, the answer to the question, ‘when does the decade end?’ literally depends on who you are asking and in essence, all the answers are correct.

Happy New Year!

Photo by Jill Wellington from Pexels

Monday, December 16, 2019

A few queries regarding Citizenship Amendment Act (CAB) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) that needs to be answered

There has been quite a talk about the CAB and the NRC; in fact, ‘talk’ is an understatement. The Citizen Amendment Bill which was recently passed in the Rajya Sabha is an act that provides citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who faced religious persecution in our neighbouring countries – Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan and arrived in India before December 31, 2014.

Given our dipping rank on the Global Hunger Index, how would we fund the additional population?

  • India was ranked 102nd on the Global Hunger Index 2019, the index of 117 countries
  • It was the lowest-ranked among South Asian Countries and way behind other BRICS nations
  • Pakistan, which used to be only country in South Asia to rank below India, pulled ahead in the 2019 ranking to 94th place. Bangladesh is at the 88th place.

How many people are going to benefit from CAA and NRC?

While it is being said in the parliament that this act will benefits “lakhs and crores” of people, but when a parliamentary standing committee scrutinized this Bill in 2016, it was informed by the Intelligence Bureau that only 31,313 people from the six faiths mentioned in the Bill would be the immediate beneficiaries.

So, who are these lakhs and crores of people? Only time would tell.

Our constitution states that the state would not discriminate on the basis on religion, caste, economic background etc. Does NRC and CAA oppose that?

Central Government Act
Article 14 in The Constitution Of India 1949
14. Equality before law The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.

This does raise a number of questions. But, it was said in the parliament that “reasonable classification” is allowed if it going to help uplift the needy. Example, reservation for certain castes.

So, you need to decide for yourself, how you look at this aspect.

While researching on the topic, I came across an interesting article by India Today. Here’s what it says,

  • 996% rise in Indians seeking political asylum in the past 10 years
  • In 2009, only 4,722 Indians felt scared to live in India and thus applied for political asylum in other countries. By 2018, this number rose to 51,769, reveals an analysis of data collected by the office of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
  • UNHCR reports show that despite being the world's largest democracy, India is not a popular destination among political asylum seekers.
    For example, in 2018 there were 35.03 lakh political asylum seekers in the world but only 0.34 per cent of them (11,957) sought political asylum in India.
  • But this does not mean that no one is applying to India. When it comes to South Asia, India has the largest number of political asylum applications. In 2018, of the 11,957 political asylum seekers in India, 65 per cent (7,864) were from Afghanistan. This was followed by those from Myanmar (2,064) and Yemen (1,134).
  • By the end of 2018 India was sheltering close to 1.95 lakh refugees.
  • India received thousands of refugees from Pakistan (at the time of Partition in 1947), Tibet (in the late 1950s and early 1960s when the Dalia Lama escaped Tibet and took shelter in India), Bangladesh (in 1970s during the Bangladesh Liberation War) and Sri Lanka (in late 1980s during the civil war).
  • But in recent times barring the protracted war in Afghanistan and the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, there hasn't been any major trigger that forced large-scale displacement of people.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Fee Hike and the JNU Saga That Followed

What do you think are the right ingredients to make a country prosper?

According to me, the answer is in the basics, proper economic management, a healthy population and an educated and motivate citizens who are innovating and reaching newer heights in ever field.
While economic and health aspects are important, in a way, they too have their roots in education and wisdom.

So shouldn’t we focus on making our education system foolproof? A high literacy rate would not only ensure an educated population but also a population who is not easily fooled, takes care of the environment, lives in a comparatively crime-free society and helps the country prosper.

But, India sure is facing a crisis here.

While the literacy rate isn’t as high as we would expect it to be. We are discouraging people who are making it to college with an itch to study.

Yup, I am talking about the JNU fee hike. And before you start with JNU students are culprits and “tukde tukde gang”. Let me stop you. If they are whatever you say they are, why are they roaming free right now? Why no arrests? Why are they allowed to contest elections?

If you don’t have a proper answer for that, just understand that you got played and students are just students.

Also, let me clear, that JNU claims that it hadn’t hiked its fees in years. Thus making it rather alright to hike it now.

While that is correct, let’s also take into consideration that we can afford subsidies for universities across the country if we really really want to.

We have spend crores on a statue, on the PM chartered planes and god know what not.
That money, if used to make our education system affordable would benefit all, right?

Think about it.

Friday, November 1, 2019

What Happened Today

Uddhav firm on CM demand, says talking to Cong & NCP

  • Uddhav Thackeray told his party legislators that he would not settle for anything but the CM’s post and that the Congress and NCP were in touch with the party.

My Opinion: I guess this is one of the first times when the BJP is seeing such strong defence in the state. I am sure that is not going down well with them, and thus, now this seems more like an ego battle. Although I appreciate a strong opposition, it is time that we narrow down on the Cabinet and the CM.

Govt asks WhatsApp to explain breach amid phone snoop row

  • The government said it had asked WhatsApp to explain how Israeli spyware ‘Pegasus’ had been used to infect the phones of many Indian rights activists and journalists to spy on them, and how the company would protect the privacy of Indians.
  • The response, articulated by IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, followed WhatsApp’s revelation that 1,400 people had been targeted worldwide, including in India, by surveillance technology so invasive that it can read and transmit the entire content of a phone as well as operate its camera.
  • NSO, said it sells Pegasus only to vetted governments and their agencies.
  • Those targeted in India were mainly rights activists, lawyers and journalists fighting for or speaking out for tribals, Dalits and people fighting the government in court.

My Opinion: It is of core importance to understand that the NSO said that Pegasus is only sold to VETTED GOVERNMENTS AND THEIR AGENCIES. 

Unesco tags Mumbai, Hyd as creative cities
  • Mumbai entered the global network of creative cities under the film category and Hyderabad under gastronomy.
  • Till now, Varanasi (music), Chennai (music) and Jaipur (crafts & folk art) were in the network, which was on Thursday expanded to 246 members, with the inclusion of 66 cities, including Mumbai and Hyderabad.

Twitter’s ban on political ads gets guarded welcome
  • Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced early on Thursday that the platform will no longer run political advertisements, saying that “political reach should be earned, not bought.”
  • Ads in support of voter registration will still be allowed, it added.

Passengers choosing BEST over taxis, autos
  • Slashed fares increase BEST’s passenger count by over 11 lakh
  • “In July 2019, the average number of daily passengers was around 19 lakh which has now risen to 30 lakh,” said Manoj Varade, deputy PRO of BEST.
  • According to AL Quadrose, leader of Mumbai Taximen’s Union, after the revision of bus fares the taxi drivers have suffered a loss of 15 to 17 per cent passengers 

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

What happened Today

Fadnavis may take oath by Fri despite spat with Sena
BJP In No Mood To Part With Top 4 Portfolios 

This, in my opinion, would be a huge blow to Shiv Sena and the Marathi Manoos sentiment. Supporters of Shiv Sena like to believe that they have an upper hand in Maharashtra’s politics, watching their party bend down so easily won’t be an easy pill to swallow.

Youth dies in police custody, five Wadala cops suspended

Five cops, including two assistant inspectors and a sub-inspector, of Wadala Truck Terminal police station were suspended following the alleged custodial death of a 26-year-old youth on Sunday night.
The incident led to protests as a crowd from Antop Hill where the victim, Vijay Singh, lived gathered at the police station demanding that a case for murder be filed against the cops involved in his alleged torture.
Police resorted to a lathicharge to disperse protestors.

Let's also look at the fact that over 100 people have lost their lives in Maharashtra between 2013 and 2017, allegedly after being beaten up in police custody. No policemen were convicted in such cases during that period, according to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) statistics. According to the report, in 47 of the 106 incidents, a magisterial or judicial inquiry had been initiated, while in 14, cases registered, and in 19 of them, chargesheets had been filed.

 Lawyer YP Singh said some custodial deaths take place due to torture but many also happen because of natural causes, including a precarious mental state and appalling detention conditions.

My Opinion: This is such a delicate situation, a person has died in police custody. That person was allegedly harassing a couple. Where does your sympathies lie in such a situation?

Good news, Achieving a five year best for environment, Mumbai has recorded the lowest maximum noise levels for Diwali day and the cleanest air quality the day after the festival

On Sunday, the maximum noise level—112.3dB—was recorded at Marine Drive
On Monday, the city recorded a ‘satisfactory’ air quality index (AQI) of 96

Around 65,000 students appeared for their Class X board examinations in Jammu & Kashmir on Tuesday,

Braving an atmosphere of uncertainty that was accentuated by the absence of public transport and recurrence of clashes between stone-pelting protesters and security forces at several places.
After the paper got over at 3pm, terrorists in Pulwama fired six to seven rounds at Rashtriya Rifles personnel patrolling a road that leads to an examination centre at Drabgam village.
CRPF inspector general Ravideep Sahi was quick to scotch rumours about the school being the target of the attack. “The firing incident occurred half a kilometre away from the exam centre and terrorists fled the moment there was retaliatory fire from the patrol party,” Ravideep Sahi said.
In Srinagar, many parents sat on the footpaths outside exam centres waiting for their wards to step out after the three-hour paper. Since no public transport was available, most examinees either walked all the way to their examination centres or travelled by private cars.
My Opinion: Can you imagine going for your exams under such circumstances? Let’s just agree that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is not ask simple as we think.

Fat-cat politicians and businessmen apply for houses in a project in Wadala meant for mathadi workers

According to the Maharashtra Hamal, Mathadi and other unprotected workers (Regulation of Employment and Welfare) Act, a mathadi is a person who carries a load of material either on his head or on his back to earn a living.
A petition filed in the Bombay High Court by a social worker claims that Satara MLA Shashikant Shinde, former MLC Narendra Patil, chairman of Hindustan Co-operative Bank Ganpatrao Jagtap and some board members of Satara-based Vatsala Group have applied for flats in an upcoming residential project in Anik village, Wadala, which is meant for members of the Mathadi Workers Cooperative Housing Society.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Aarey re - #SaveAarey

If you live in Mumbai, I am sure you are well aware of the Aarey plight. A citizen-led protest that is taking over the state government for the benefit of the city’s ecology and people, is all over the news these days.

It is common knowledge that the easiest way to keep the pollution low is to plant more trees. Mumbai, along with several Indian cities, has been topping the charts of “Most polluted cities” across the globe. Mumbai is also one of the few cities which has a forest and wildlife living right in the heart of the city. In such a scenario, it should be obvious that protecting a forest that is providing us with fresh air should be our top priority – unfortunately, it isn’t.

So let me start with a few crucial reasons why it is important to save the Aarey Forest,
  • It is a part of the only surviving green lung of the city. So if you want purified air for yourself and your family, this issue should be important to you.
  • To save wildlife and protect the ecology at place there.
  • The car shed site is in the flood-plain area of the Mithi River. Building the car shed there means additional flooding in the city.

What the MMRC is saying is,

It is just a small part of the forest, that too in the peripheral region.
This can be true about the car shed, but this is just the first part. Several projects are coming up in the Aarey Forest, basically stripping us away from our green cover, one by one. A metro inside a forested area means the potential to extend it into a station and turn the area into a residential hotspot. While we are just focusing on the car shed, there are a few other projects also being planned in the area, like,
  • A Zoo (Yes, they are cutting a forest to build a zoo)
  • A Metro Bhavan (A 30 storey commercial space)
  • An SRA Project (slum dwellers from across the city would be moved here to open up prime property for builders)

It is also important to note that for the upkeep of the Car Shed, the groundwater would be utilised. Remember, this is the groundwater of a forest, which means it is pristine and potable. Let’s not forget that before monsoon this year, the groundwater across the country had dipped and we were nearing or were already at the emergence of a drought-like situation. In such a case, we would be using drinkable water to wash metros. According to an activist, the estimate is that close to 50,000 litres of water would be used daily.

Other options are not available
The Metro 6 car shed is being planned at Kanjurmarg, which was deemed unfit for Metro 3. It is unclear how an area which can was deemed unfit for one phase is fit for another phase of the same project.

Will help reduce pollution
Delhi and Kolkata have an amazing network of Metro connecting the entire city. The cities still top the list of most polluted cities in India. In fact, at times Delhi is even worse than Mumbai.

This is selective outrage, you did not protest when other development happened in the area
Umm, so, just because we did not protest earlier means we shouldn’t protest even now? So we shouldn’t correct our mistakes?

Picture: Amit Bar
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(Obviously, you must be wondering what qualifies me to write this blogpost. I would like to clarify that this is based on several interactions with the activists, government officials, Tribals who live in Aarey and after attending a couple of court proceedings and actually visiting the Aarey Colony.)